Those of us that have Highly Sensitive Children already know what a rollercoaster ride it can be parenting them on a daily basis – really rewarding when they are happy, but oh so challenging when they’re overstimulated or overtired. Throw into the mix a Highly Sensitive Parent having to cope with their Highly Sensitive Child’s meltdown, especially when the parent is tired themselves, and it can be a recipe for disaster.
Here are my top 3 tips for a Highly Sensitive Parent coping with their Highly Sensitive Child in a meltdown:
- Prepare yourself by practising extreme self-care. As a Highly Sensitive Person you may need a lot more sleep than a non-Highly Sensitive Person. Make sure you get it! Ensure you eat regularly too as Highly Sensitive People are more prone to feeling the effects of low blood sugar. Ideally, aim to have a protein-based snack every 2 hours. A well-fed and rested parent has a lot more patience than a hungry, over-tired one!
- Remember to breathe. Don’t underestimate the power of the simple breath. When faced with a Highly Sensitive Child having a tantrum, make yourself pause before diving in, and take a few deep breaths. Making your exhale longer than your inhale helps to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system helping to calm you down. Try inhaling for a count of 4, hold your breath for 1 count, exhale for a count of 6, hold your breath for 1 count, and repeat. Do this a few times until you feel yourself becoming calmer, then engage with your screaming child.
- Know when to walk away. Sometimes with even the best intentions in the world, we just don’t get enough sleep or we’ve not eaten and our blood sugar levels are at an all-time low. If you feel like you’re about to start shouting at your darling Highly Sensitive Child who seems to be an expert in pushing your buttons, make sure it’s safe for you to leave your child for a few moments, then take a break. Go into another room, walk a few steps away or even just close your eyes for a few moments and breathe!
If you still find that you’ve lost your temper despite your best efforts, don’t do the typical Highly Sensitive Person thing and beat yourself up about it. Accept that you didn’t manage to stay calm this time, and think about what you can do differently in the future. It can help to talk to someone in a similar situation, or you can join a support group.
The important thing to remember is that you need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of your Highly Sensitive Child. Think of it as putting on an oxygen mask in an airplane – you need to fit yours first before helping anyone else.
I hope you’ve found these tips useful. Please leave a comment with your suggestions of what you do when your child is having a tantrum. The more ideas we can share the better!